will wonder again whether I teach at Hogwarts, or not.
As you may recall, several days ago was parents’ weekend, and all us teachers were asked to put up things to be bid upon at a silent auction. I put up four dinner parties and numerous other sundries for bidding.
Tonight, it was payback time. Five students sat around my dining room table and muched down three pounds of broccoli, and four pounds of General Tso’s Chicken (home-made!) in about half an hour. They then lounged around over cheesecake and cider, and we talked ghosts, goblins, ghouls and the occult — specifically in reference to strange happenings here at school, six or seven years back.
Once again, I was importuned to be present for Halloween festivities and the haunted house on Friday night (sure… that’s a good idea… have the haunted house in the one definite building on campus where someone actually died.)
The trouble with telling ghost stories about things that are actually close to home is that, well… they are home. It’s kind of like waking up in the middle of the night (if you’re a muggle) and discovering you have the misfortune to live across from the Dursleys on the day that Harry goes off to school…. or worse, comes home. There’s clearly something odd going on, and it’s clearly more than that school for the criminally insane that fat fellow Vernon keeps talking about. It’s also quite clear that you, yourself, don’t have the wherewithal to deal with it, nor does anyone you happen to know.
Which is the position these kids are in. They don’t know anything about the spirit world, and they want to know.
The trouble is…
You don’t need to know about the spirit world until you encounter it, and learning about the spirit world increases the likelihood that you will encounter it. It’s sort of a double bind. So these kids ask about the rumored events from six years ago, and then they get scared. So they ask for protections, and reminders, and various defenses, which I’m happy to give out… but then they want to know how those protections and defenses and reminders work. Which of course opens them to the likelihood that they’ll encounter strangeness. It’s a difficult catch-23.